Menu Close

Category: Black Collar Crime

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Seferino Tosie Accused of Raping Church Children

seferino tosie

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Seferino Tosie, pastor of Missionary Memorial Church in Aurora, Oregon, stands of accused sixteen counts of rape, sexual penetration, sex abuse, and sodomy.

KOIN reports:

A Washington County pastor was arrested and indicted for sex crimes, including rape, for alleged incidents that began in 2008.

Seferino Tosie, 46, was indicted by a Washington County grand jury following a 2-month investigation with the Canby Police Department that identified multiple juvenile victims.

Detectives say Tosie’s victims likely attended Missionary Memorial Church in Aurora, where he worked as a pastor.

So far, the cases reported have occurred in Washington, Clackamas, and Marion counties between 2008 and 2016, authorities said.

Tosie was indicted by a grand jury on 16 charges.

However, detectives with the Violent Crimes Unit say they also believe there are other victims yet to come forward, as Tosie has worked in other churches in the area, as well as in Kansas, Minnesota, Hawaii and Iowa. Officials said one more victim came forward after Tosie’s indictment.

NewsBreak adds:

Detectives of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes division say a pastor, Seferino Tosie, 46, has been indicted on multiple charges of alleged sexual assault.

Officials are looking for more victims.

Since Tosie’s indictment on Dec. 13, a third victim has come forward with similar allegations. The alleged victims were members of Missionary Memorial Church in Aurora, where Tosie served as a pastor. The alleged abuse reported so far took place in Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties between 2008 and 2016.

So far, all of the alleged victims have been of Micronesian descent. Court records show the three victims were all under the age of 14.

The charges stem from a two-month joint investigation with the Canby Police Department. Detectives identified multiple juvenile victims during the investigation, and the case is still ongoing.

Detectives believe Tosie’s victims attended Missionary Memorial Church, where he worked as a pastor. Investigators say Tosie also has worked at many other churches in the area, as well as in Kansas, Minnesota, Hawaii and Iowa.

A Washington County grand jury on Dec. 13 indicted Tosie on multiple counts of the following crimes:

Rape in the first degree (three counts)Sodomy in the first degree (six counts)Sexual Abuse in the first degree (four counts)Sexual Penetration in the first degree (three counts)

Tosie has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Meanwhile, a co-defendent is listed in the court records, Jerony MJ Simina, 23, of Tualatin. Simina was arraigned Dec. 6 on six counts of first-degree sodomy and three counts of first-degree sexual abuse. Records show the men may have abused at least two of the same children.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Albert Wharton Accused of Numerous Sex Crimes

arrested

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Albert Wharton, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor who pastored seven churches, stands accused of 22 felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child under the age of 13 while in a custodial position and eight felony counts of aggravated sexual assault. No church name is listed.

ABC-8 reports:

A former pastor of an independent Baptist church in the town of Warsaw in Richmond County is facing 30 felony charges relating to multiple incidents the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office alleges occurred at the church between 1981 and 1997.

Albert Benjamin Wharton, 86, of South Carolina, was arrested in South Carolina at 8:42 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 by investigators from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and South Carolina’s Pickens County Sheriff’s Department.

On the same day, Wharton was extradited to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Richmond County.

Sheriff Steve Smith of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said Wharton’s arrest was the culmination of a 15-month investigation into more than two dozen alleged incidents that occurred while he was a preacher at Berachah Academy between 1981 and 1997. The academy has since closed.

Wharton was charged with 22 felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child under the age of 13 while in a custodial position and eight felony counts of aggravated sexual assault.

“Wharton has lived and served seven churches in Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida over the past four decades,” Sheriff Smith said.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Youth Pastor Austin Perkins Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Child Molestation

austin perkins

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Austin Perkins, a youth pastor at Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Cave Spring, Georgia, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for child molestation and possession of child pornography. Grace Fellowship is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Rome News-Gazette reports:

A former youth minister of a Floyd County church was sentenced Thursday to serve 15 years in prison on child molestation and possession of child pornography charges, alongside another 25 years on probation.

When Austin Wray Perkins was arrested on March 9, 2022, as part of a sting targeting child pornography, police discovered he was also the guardian of a minor living at his home who he sexually victimized.

According to a police statement at the time of his arrest, Perkins took the child — who had no family or support — into his home and molested him. During that time, Perkins was also a youth minister at Grace Fellowship Baptist Church.

Perkins, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of felony child molestation and one count of felony sexual exploitation of children — in a non-negotiated plea in Floyd County Superior Court — in September.

At the time of the arrest, Floyd County Assistant District Attorney Leah Mayo said police discovered what they thought were 20 or so images containing child pornography. There were hundreds more.

“After officers were able to get into both phones completely, we’re talking about hundreds of images,” Mayo told Floyd County Superior Court Chief Judge John “Jack” Niedrach. “There are some images of infants under a year old (being subjected to sexual abuse). It’s a horrific, extensive, extremely exploitative and disturbing collection of child pornography.”

Mayo also read statements from the victim and his now reunited father.

“I know my son will never be the same from the hell Austin has put him through,” the father wrote. He described how Perkins threatened and manipulated his son in order to abuse him.

During the sentencing, prosecutors and Perkins’ attorney Radford Bunker referred to the results of a psychosexual evaluation taken prior to his sentencing.

Bunker described incidents in his client’s childhood when he’d been victimized sexually and talked about a confusion in Perkins’ mental processes because of that abuse.

“This report shows that terrible things have happened to him, but he is treatable,” Bunker said. “It’s because of what happened to him that he is not able to see these things clearly and correctly.”

The attorney referred to a finding in the evaluation that Perkins has a treatable condition and asked the judge to prescribe treatment for Perkins when he’s released from prison.

Members of Perkins’ family and friends admitted that Perkins had done bad things, but asked that the judge give leniency to a person they described as intelligent, caring, and hardworking. He did not speak during the sentencing.

“I think, in his mind, he’s just thinking he was doing the right thing by helping the victim,” Perkins’ mother, Kelly Bishop, said. “He thought that because (the victim) didn’t have a family that did for (the victim), that he would do for (the victim)…”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Jordan Shortridge Accused of Stealing $470,000 From Grandfather’s Church

jordan-shortridge

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Jordan Shortridge, the grandson of Daniel Shortridge, pastor of Dallas Church of God in Dallas, North Carolina, stands accused of stealing $470.000 from the church. Shortridge was active in the church, playing the drums and working in the AV department.

The Gaston Gazette reports:

The grandson of a Dallas pastor has been arrested and accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the church.

Jordan Shortridge, the grandson of Rev. Daniel Shortridge, came under investigation after the accounting department at Dallas Church of God found that more than $470,000 had been used for purchases that were not related to the church, according to a press release.

The accounting department reportedly began to find discrepancies in the church funds as far back as 2021. Their bank conducted an audit and found withdrawals and payments made through PayPal, according to the release.

The church reported the discrepancies to the police in July 2023. Shortridge was charged with felony larceny Friday.

Shortage [sic], 28, of Crouse, posted bond within hours and was released.

Dallas Police Chief Robert Walls declined to say how exactly Shortridge would have accessed the funds, but said that he was involved with the church.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Should Evangelical Preachers Who Commit Sex Crimes Be Given a Second (or Fourteenth) Chance?

god's forgiveness

Dr. David Tee, who is neither a doctor nor a Tee, has long objected to the Black Collar Crime Series. Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, has written several posts about my Black Collar Crime posts. Here’s what he said in his latest post on the subject (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the original):

We read BG’s response to our black collar crime series article. .He is lucky that we are not litigious in nature and do not strike back at those who not only distort what we have said but libel and slander us.

But he says things the way he does because he is a first-class narcissist who needs to be seen as the victim 100% of the time. If he wasn’t that way his posts would be written vastly different than they are being written.

He just doesn’t get it. No one needs his black collar crime series. Everyone that needs to know already knows about what some pastors do. There is no need to pile on and add misery to those who are already miserable.

Of course, if you read that series, you will find that BG does not present one legitimate solution to the problem. Instead, he spends his time attacking us as we are providing the framework for a solution to ministers going and gone bad.

We would prefer that those men not join the ministry until they allow Jesus to heal them of their problems. But since they do not postpone their answer to their calling, we must deal with the problem within the church.

The secular world does not have a solution for the problems these men face and instead of embarrassing and humiliating pastors, they should just remain silent trusting that church officials will be led by God to handle the problems correctly.

….

They [rapist, predator, abusive preachers] have sinned and come short of the glory of God, just like the rest of us. Christ is there for them as he is for all of us. We are no better even if we did not commit such worldly sins as the bible tells.

Those men are no worse than any one of us and deserve a second chance. Where would any of us be if we were not given 2nd, 3rd, or 14 chances by God?

As you may have noticed we are not saying much about BG and his black collar crime series as that rant is not worth discussing. The author of those words doesn’t speak the truth and offers no legitimate reason for it to exist.

We have said the worst we are going to say about the owner of that website and series. As all he can do is distort, libel, and slander. It is not worth getting into a war of words over.

But since it does exist, that series does provide us with a starting point to provide direction for those Christians who may have condemned and judged those men or do not know what ministry they should do.

We should not judge nor condemn those men because that is not our duty. We are not better than them and we do need to find a way to solve their problems BEFORE they get themselves into trouble.

….

We have not changed one word of what we said in the article on the black collar series. That series is a useless effort that does not help anyone.

According to Thiessen, if a preacher commits a sex crime, he is not disqualified from serving in the ministry; that God forgives them (how does he know this?) and we should too. And therein is the fundamental problem: unconditional forgiveness. No matter what a person does, God forgives him. All he needs to do, according to 1 John 1:9, is repent and ask for forgiveness. Rape a child? Repent and ask for forgiveness. Sexually assault a teenager? Repent and ask for forgiveness. Molest children? Repent and ask for forgiveness. Manipulate a woman who is under your care so she will have sex with you? Repent and ask for forgiveness. No matter how heinous the crime, all an offending preacher needs to do is shoot a prayer up to Jesus and he will immediately wipe your sin slate clean. Awesome, right? No matter what a preacher does — even two, three, or fourteen times, according to Thiessen — forgiveness is but a prayer away.

I know several Evangelical preachers who refuse to run background checks on workers in their churches. Why? Whatever these workers might have done — including sexually molesting and assaulting children — is in the past, covered by the blood of Jesus and buried in the deepest sea to be never remembered again. If God has forgiven them, so should their fellow church members.

How hard can it be to say to prospective clerics: if you commit a sex crime, you are no longer fit to serve as a pastor — period? If you are a registered sex offender, you are no longer fit to serve as a pastor — period. Sexually molesting and abusing children, sexually assaulting teenagers, and taking sexual advantage of church women (or men) should be immediately, and forever, disqualifying. That it is not in many corners of the Evangelical world is troubling, to say the least.

Sexual predators cannot be “cured.” We can have a long discussion about pedophilia, but the fact remains that predators typically re-offend; that children are NOT safe around them. Some predators should be locked up without the possibility of parole. Others should have strict limitations put on them, including forbidding them from having contact with children and other vulnerable people. Next to the finality of murder, sex crimes leave some of the deepest, most long-lasting scars on victims/survivors. Doubt me? Scores of victims/survivors read this blog. Ask them how being sexually violated has affected their lives. Untold harm, heartache, and loss, yet the Derrick Thiessens of the world ignore the harm caused by predators, choosing instead to “forgive” offenders and send them back into the ministry so they can “prey” again.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Dr. David Tee Continues to Support Preachers Who Rape, Molest, and Abuse Children

sexual predators 2

Dr. David Tee, who is neither a doctor nor a Tee, continues to support preachers who rape, molest, and abuse children, saying that their crimes are mere “problems”; weaknesses that they can overcome through Jesus and the power of prayer. Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, continues to impugn my character, suggesting that I hate God and Christians; that I’m just piling on those poor preachers who are down. Thiessen thinks I am trying to make God look bad. According to him, the purpose of the Black Collar Crime Series is to harm Christianity and Christians.

Here’s what Thiessen had to say (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the original):

There is a website [The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser], BG’s [Bruce Gerencser] to be more specific, that likes to post the names, images, and crimes of those Christian pastors who have not been able to conquer their problems [rapes, molestations, assaults]. For the most part, it is a useless list as it does not expose anyone of any secret crime they have committed.

It is just a reposting of actual news stories for whatever reason BG may have. We have labeled it as hatred for God and Christians in the past and it is simply piling on those who are down. It is an uncalled for list as it serves no purpose but to harm Christians and Christianity.

He tries to make God look bad through the fallen ministers who are paying for their crimes. However, no matter the bad reason BG has for posting these images and crimes, Christians can turn it into good.

….

Being a pastor is a hard profession to be in as evil will attack the minister through a variety of means. Ministers need prayer to remain strong, resist temptation, and remain in the faith. They are totally human and do have weaknesses they have not conquered.

Just because God calls them to the ministry does it mean they are impervious to temptation, perfect, or even properly spiritual. These lists prove that point. When these men and sometimes women fail, don’t get a superiority complex because all Christians fail in some way at some point [most Christians don’t rape, molest, or assault children].

I have repeatedly explained why I write the Black Collar Crimes Series to Thiessen. In March 2023, I republished an expanded post titled Why I Write The Black Collar Crime Series and Will Continue to Do So Despite Criticism from Evangelicals. What follows is that post in full.

The Black Collar Crime series is in its seventh year, having published over one thousand reports of clergy and church leader criminal misconduct. Most of the reports are about Evangelical pastors, evangelists, youth directors, and other church leaders who committed sex crimes. Using Google Alerts, I receive an immediate notice any time a news story about clerical malfeasance is posted on the Internet. These stories must receive wide circulation. Victims need to know that people are standing with them as they bring to light what God’s servants have done in secret.

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s readership numbers and publishing these reports, I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that alleged repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such as Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes. (Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes, these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not before the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is a case in point. Decades of abuse reports were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the sixteen years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on one hand the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused — less than five, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct. The social and personal cost is simply too high for someone to falsely accuse a religious leader of criminal conduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, Naasón Joaquín García, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters, with heads in the sand, refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were Abused and Evangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse.)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal and criminal behavior. I remember when the Catholic sex scandal came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know — with the recent Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) and Southern Baptist sex scandals — that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problems with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has a big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

I receive threats from people defending their religious heroes. Threats of legal action are common, even though all I am doing is republishing stories publicly reported by news agencies. A pastor featured in one of my reports contacted me and said that reporters had it all wrong. As I do with everyone who asserts they are being falsely accused, I told this preacher that he could give his version of the facts, sign his name to it, and I would gladly add it to the post. Usually, this puts an end to any further protestations. Most often, the accused want to bully me into taking down my post. In this preacher’s case, he provided me his version of events and I gladly added it to my post. After adding the information, I decided to investigate this pastor further. I found more information about his past indiscretions and crimes. I dutifully added them to the post. I have not heard anything further from the good pastor.

I am not immune from making mistakes, so if you spot a factual error in one of the stories, please let me know and I will gladly correct it. If you come across a story that you would like me to add to this series, please use the contact form to email me. Please keep in mind that I need links to actual news reports in order to add them to this series.

I primarily use Google Alerts for Black Collar Crime reports. I also rely on readers to alert me to new stories or updates of previous reports. I am one man with a limited amount of time each day to slog through the brackish Evangelical swamp, so I don’t see every report or know the outcome of every case I’ve featured in the Black Collar Crime Series. Keep in mind that I require EVIDENCE for me to update a story. Not gossip or personal opinion. Actual evidence such as reputable news stories (with links). Just because a reader or drive-by commenter says something doesn’t make it so. I appreciate your understanding.

I realize that nothing I say in this post will change the minds of preachers such as Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen. Thiessen has a sketchy background. He has been accused of abandoning his family, including an infant child, failing to pay child support, and fleeing to South Korea/Philippines to avoid being held accountable for his behavior.

Thiessen has been a vocal critic of me personally and of the Black Collar Crimes Series. Thiessen is known for defending clerics who commit sex crimes. Just this week he wrote two more posts defending Ravi Zacharias. He has also defended men such as Bill Cosby and Bill Gothard. Thiessen goes to great lengths to defend his support of offending preachers, but I find his defenses lacking in every way. Thiessen repeatedly rejects the substantial work done by law enforcement in investigating, prosecuting, and convicting pastors who commit sex crimes. Why? This is the judgment of the “world,” not God. Of course, God is unavailable for comment. All we have are our legal processes, albeit imperfect, they are the best we have to hold clergy and churches accountable.

Thiessen frequently blames victims for what happened to them. Thiessen is not alone in this approach to women (sometimes men) and children who have been sexually violated and taken advantage of by so-called men of God. Again, Thiessen claims that victims are following the ways of the “world” instead of God. Of course, God’s ways in Thiessen’s mind are his peculiar interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible.

Thiessen, in response to the post, Dr. David Tee Thinks Everyone Who is Not a Christian is an Atheist, renewed his objections to the Black Collar Crime Series. Here’s some of what he said:

He [Bruce Gerencser] is right in one thing, we do not like his black collar series but not for the reasons he thinks. We [Derrick Thiessen] do not like it for many reasons and two of them are, it is not being fair or just. That owner [Bruce Gerencser] ignores all the unbelievers and atheists who are caught, tried, and convicted for the same crimes.

….

[Speaking of being fair and just] Christians have to do both to be able to make an impact for Christ. But this is not the end of the hypocrisy and injustice carried out by the owners of the BG [The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser] and MM [Meerkat Musings] websites, as well as other unbelieving websites.

There have been other similar stories about drag shows in schools, and so on. Yet not one peep from either owner about how bad, immoral, or wrong these actions are. Instead, they would rather target Christians as that is the group of people, as well as Christ, that they hate.

This is another reason God told us to never follow in the counsel of the ungodly. They do not have fairness or just behavior in their thinking. Look at all the CRT, equity, BLM  re-education going on today. None of those and anything similar is of God nor are they just and fair.

….

Another reason we do not like the black collar series over at that website [The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser] is that it is unneeded. It does nothing constructive for society nor does it help redeem those men who failed in their Christian lives, if they were Christians at all.

All it does, as we said earlier, is influence others to hate Christ, pastors, and the church, and turning people to hate is wrong. It is not fair to those men highlighted and the series does not have people being just or fair towards them. In fact, it helps stoke the misguided guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality that many unbelievers endorse.

It is also redundant as the local papers will carry the same stories and his series is just wasting everyone’s time. When the Christian sees those stories they need to ask God how to reach those men so that Christ can redeem them.

….

{we would link to the article we talked about but it is so filled with lies and eisegetical comments that it is nothing but trash [which I can’t rebut] }

I have explained my motivations for writing the Black Collar Crime Series several times. He knows exactly why I do what I do, so I can only conclude that Thiessen is a liar and his goal is to impugn my character and impair my coverage of clergy sex crimes.

Let’s suppose I operated a site whose mission was to cover the Cincinnati Reds. Every day I published news stories about the Reds and individual players on the team. One day, a man named Deirere TeeDee sent me an email, complaining about me not writing any posts about the NHL, particularly me not covering the Detroit Red Wings. Duh, I replied, I write about the Reds, and Major League Baseball, not the National Hockey League and the Detroit Red Wings. Your complaint has no merit.

Yet, this is exactly what Thiessen has done with his complaint about me not covering atheists and other unbelievers who commit sex crimes. He knows that this site focuses on four things:

  • Helping people who have questions and doubts about Christianity
  • Helping people who have left Christianity
  • Telling the story about my journey from Evangelical Christian to atheist
  • Critiquing Evangelical Christianity

I have been blogging since 2007 — sixteen years. I have stayed true to these four focus points, rarely veering off the path to talk about politics, sports, food, and travel. Why Thiessen cannot understand why I write the Black Collar Crime Series is beyond me. I know that all sorts of people commit sex crimes, but my focus is on Evangelical preachers who commit such crimes. This is NOT a sex crime blog. If it was, I would cover unbelievers and believers alike. And even if I did, it would still be true that the vast majority of people who commit sex crimes are Christian or religious. Why? Because most Americans are Christians.

I have repeatedly explained to Thiessen why the Black Collar Crime Series is needed. I assume, at this point, he is being obtuse. Most of the stories I write require numerous news stories to tell the complete story. They also require research on my part to find out what sect the offender was a part of and their background and beliefs. Sometimes, these reports take a lot of time to put together. Other times, a Google search quickly gives me everything I need to write the story.

These reports are based on news reports, court records, social media, and other verifiable sources. I rarely interject my personal opinion. My goal is to provide a one-stop website for people looking for information about a particular preacher/church and their crimes. Blog traffic numbers suggest that this is exactly what is happening.

It is not uncommon for news sites to either delete stories about clergy sex crimes or put them behind paywalls. That’s why it is important for me to make these stories available to the public free of charge. The public has a right to know what is going on in Evangelical churches. Surely it is important to cover criminal behavior by clerics. Surely it is important to say to victims that I hear you and I will make your story known far and wide. The bigger question, then, is this: why do Derrick Thiessen and other Christians of his ilk want to muzzle me and keep these stories from being known?

One answer to the questions above is that the Thiessens of the world don’t care about the victims of clergy sex crimes. I suspect many of them believe that the victimized women (and men) and children and not victims at all. Thus, they view sexual predators as the real victims; that the “world” is out to get them. Thiessen admits as much when he says “When the Christian sees those stories [about rape, sexual assault, child molestation, along with theft, fraud, and murder] they need to ask God how to reach those men so that Christ can redeem them.” Remember, Thiessen has called sex crimes “mistakes.” He has yet to write one positive post about the victims of clergy sexual misconduct. All that Thiessen cares about are the poor preachers who rape, assault, misuse, and abuse vulnerable people. In his mind, these preachers just made “mistakes.” If they will just shoot a 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) prayer to Heaven, Jesus will forgive them and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. With that, the offending preachers are forgiven and should get right back on the ministry horse. Thiessen seems oblivious to the fact that most pedophiles are incurable; that Jesus himself can’t fix them. He seems to be oblivious to the fact that preachers caught committing sex crimes, particularly child pornography, have likely been doing so for years. When a 60-something-year-old preacher is arrested for sexually assaulting a child, it is likely that he has committed this crime before. Most clergy sex crimes go unreported/unprosecuted (as is the case in the general population). What I cover with the Black Collar Crime Series is but a fraction of the crimes committed by Christian clergy. I read sites such as Ministry Watch, The Roys Report, Bishop Accountability, Baptist Accountability, and the Black Collar Crime listings published monthly for members by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I am astounded by how many stories about clergy sex crimes I actually miss.

It’s clear to all who are willing to see that Evangelicalism has a clergy sex crime problem of epic proportions. These reports are not a few bad apples. The sex scandal roiling through the Southern Baptist Convention certainly proves that the proverbial barrel is littered with rotten, stinking apples.

Note: As of today, I have published almost 1,000 Black Collar Crime posts. I am sitting on over 1,000 more stories that await publication. I wish I could do more in this regard, but I can’t due to my health. I do what I can, but I want every victim/survivor to know that I see them, hear them, and will do all I can to make sure their story is not forgotten.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Worship Leader Luis Mendoza Accused of Grooming Minor Church Girl

luis mendoza

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Luis Mendoza, a volunteer worship leader at Stoney Church in Washington, Michigan, stands accused of grooming and engaging sexually with a church minor.

Click On Detroit reports:

A man serving as a youth leader at a Macomb County church has been charged with criminal sexual conduct due to alleged sexual contact with a minor who attends his church.

Clinton Township man Luis Mendoza, 29, was arraigned Wednesday, Nov. 15 on multiple counts of criminal sex conduct, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office reports. Mendoza — who was a former worship volunteer at Stoney Church in Washington Township, according to the church — is accused of grooming and engaging sexually with a minor.

According to county officials, authorities received a complaint on Sept. 6 from parents stating that a child was “criminally sexually contacted and given marijuana by a youth leader at their church.” Investigators found that Mendoza allegedly groomed the child before engaging in sexual contact, officials said.

Mendoza has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Third-degree CSC relates to penetration in which force or coercion were used, and fourth-degree CSC relates to unwanted intimate touching.

“Acts of this nature are intolerable, especially by someone in a position of leadership and trust,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. “I commend this brave young person for coming forward.”

The child’s identity will not be revealed publicly because they are a minor.

Mendoza was given a $250,000 bond, with no 10% option, during his arraignment Wednesday. He was also ordered to not have any contact with anyone under the age of 18 years old, officials said.

The church released the following statement:

“Stoney Church is aware of an incident involving a former worship volunteer and has been in full cooperation with authorities. We first want to offer our prayers and support to the victim and family. We have safeguard mechanisms that were enacted as soon as we were made aware of the allegation and the individual was immediately removed from all church activities. We are in touch with our church community about our continued efforts to provide a safe and caring environment for all to worship, especially our youth. We continue to ask for support and prayer for the victim, family, and all affected by this.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Update: Black Collar Crime: Lutheran Youth Pastor Isaiah Mikkelson Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Minor Church Girls

Isaiah Mikkelson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Earlier this year, Isaiah W. Mikkelson, a youth pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Quincy, Illinois, was charged with one count of criminal sexual assault, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and two charges of child pornography. Hope Lutheran is affiliated with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.

WGEM reported at the time:

A 22-year-old Quincy man who faces seven felony charges related to criminal sexual behavior had his bond placed at $250,000 on Thursday in Adams County Circuit Court by Judge Mark L. Harkin.

Isaiah W. Mikkelson is charged with one count of criminal sexual assault, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two charges of child pornography.

According to court documents, two different females who were over the age of 13, but under 18 at the time of the incidents, have accused Mikkelson of fondling their breasts and sex organs over their clothes.

Court documents also allege that Mikkelson “knowingly solicited, used, persuaded, induced, enticed, or coerced” both females who he should reasonably know to be under the age of 18 to appear in a video involving an act of masturbation.

The documents also state that one of the females reported that Mikkelson used his finger to penetrate her.

The documents allege these incidents all happened in 2021.

The Herald-Whig reported:

A November jury trial has been set for the Quincy man facing multiple sex abuse charges.

Court records show that Isaiah W. Mikkelson’s trial is scheduled for Nov. 6. 

Mikkelson, 22, faces, two counts of child pornography, one count of criminal sexual assault and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

He was arrested March 7 following a Quincy Police Department investigation that started in January when a report of a child being sexually abused by a youth director/pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Quincy was received.

During the investigation, multiple children interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center alleged abuse by Mikkelson and that the abuse occurred at the church.

In November 2023, Mikkelson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Herald-Whig reports:

The former youth pastor at a Quincy church was sentenced to 12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on sex abuse charges.

Court records show Isaiah W. Mikkelson, 22, on Friday was sentenced to six years each on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Adams County Circuit Court. 

The sentences must be served consecutively.

Mikkelson was arrested March 7 following a Quincy Police Department investigation that started in January when a report of a child being sexually abused by a youth director/pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Quincy was received.

During the investigation, multiple children interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center alleged abuse by Mikkelson and that the abuse occurred at the church.

He entered the guilty plea on Sept. 26. As part of the plea, two counts of child pornography, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and one count of criminal sexual assault were dismissed. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Update: Black Collar Crime: Findlay Catholic Priest Michael Zacharias Convicted of Sex Trafficking, Sentenced to Life in Prison

Michael Zacharias

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2020, Michael Zacharias, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay Ohio, was accused of grooming and sexually assaulting minors for years. (I attended high school in Findlay in the 1970s. Several of my friends attended St. Michael’s.)

The Toledo Blade reported:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, alleging that he groomed and sexually assaulted minors for years, beginning in Toledo.

Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said the Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, is believed to have groomed and sexually assaulted minors since the late 1990s.

The Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force took the priest into custody after he presided at a 7 a.m. Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Parish. Father Zacharias faces charges of coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion, according to court documents.

….

Agent Smith addressed the media at a morning news conference outside the priest’s residence on Greendale Avenue in Findlay, which abuts the parking lot of the parish grounds. He said the criminal complaint filed against the priest includes accounts from two victims, but his department believes there have been others.

….

“It’s imperative that those other individuals out there come forward,” he said on Tuesday. “Your contact with us will remain strictly confidential.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced that Father Zacharias was put on administrative leave effective immediately upon hearing word of his arrest. This means he cannot exercise public ministry, administer sacraments, or present himself as a priest. Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while an allegation is being investigated.

Bishop Daniel Thomas responded in a statement:

“I am profoundly shocked and grieved to learn of these charges against one of our priests,” he said. “The Church cannot and will not tolerate any such behavior and takes any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of a cleric with the utmost seriousness. As we await the outcome of the criminal investigation, our prayers go out to anyone affected by this situation.”

The diocese indicated that these are the first allegations raised against Father Zacharias.

Father Zacharias was ordained in 2002, according to the diocese.

He is most recently the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017. The parish serves about 3,300 households, and is affiliated with St. Michael the Archangel School, which covers preschool through eighth grade.

The diocese identified his previous assignments as St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Toledo as a seminarian between 1999 and 2000; St. Peter Parish in Mansfield, Ohio as an associate pastor between 2002 and 2007; St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Van Wert as pastor between 2007 and 2011; St. Joseph and St. Ann Parishes in Fremont as pastor between 2011 and 2017; and St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay since 2017.

Investigators allege in court records that he began to groom two male victims, currently ages 32 and 26, while he was a seminarian and they were students at St. Catherine of Siena. One met Father Zacharias in the sixth grade, the other in the first grade, according to the complaint.

Each described to agents drug addictions that began in their teen years, and alleged that the priest would help fund their drug habits by paying them for oral sex. This began while they were underage and, in the case of one of the victims, continued until as recently as July.

The complaint indicates that these exchanges occurred at times in parish rectories, including Father Zacharias’ diocese-owned residence in Findlay.

The complaint also indicates that in the case of the victim with whom he was in touch as recently as July, Father Zacharias would request and at times pay for videos in which he performed sex acts on the victim and in which he confessed to grooming the victim. The complaint references multiple text messages between the victim and the priest.

….

Father Zacharias was one of several ordinands who spoke with The Blade in 2002, reflecting on their vocations amid seismic revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as reported by the Boston Globe.

Then-Deacon Zacharias said that his cohort of priests would bring with them an understanding of sexuality as a part of who they are.

“In the past I don’t want to say they denied it, but it seems as though they were told, ‘You’re going to be a priest, you’re going to be celibate,’” he told The Blade then. By contrast, he said contemporary seminarians were taught to have healthy and appropriate relationships.

Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn responded to the news in a statement on Tuesday.

“I am distraught by the news of the arrest of Father Michael Zacharias,” she said. “These allegations are not taken lightly, and the Findlay Police Department and our community at large will support the full and thorough investigation by the FBI. Such abuse of power, and perversion of sexuality is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by any organization, individual, or society.”

Three years later, Zacharias was convicted of sex trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

NBC-4 reports:

A former priest has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of his role in a sex trafficking scandal in Toledo, Ohio.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio, 56-year-old Michael Zacharias was sentenced to life in prison, five years of supervised release, and fines of $25,500 after a jury found him guilty in May of five counts of sex trafficking.

Zacharias, of Findlay, was a priest-in-training when he first met three victims at a parochial school in Toledo in 1999. At the time the victims were five, 11, and 13 years old, though the release states they were victimized into their adult ages.

Evidence showed that Zacharias groomed the boys and became close with their families before eventually coercing the victims to engage in commercial sex acts. He then continued to victimize the boys into their adulthood by exploiting their opioid addictions to cope with the trauma of their abuse.

Zacharias served as a Catholic priest in northwest Ohio for over 20 years. His victims struggled in school, fell into opioid addiction, developed criminal histories and became financially dependent on him to avoid opioid withdrawal and homelessness.

Zacharias was arrested in August 2020 and charged with sex trafficking of a minor, sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud or coercion, and coercion and enticement. At that time, the Diocese of Toledo said Zacharias was a priest and pastor of St. Michael the Archangel parish in Findlay and had been placed on administrative leave. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Zachry Petree Pleads Guilty to Asking Minor Church Girl for “Sexy Pictures”

Zachry Petree

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Zachry Petree, pastor of The Field Church in Markle, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one felony count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors.

Mercer County Outlook reports:

A former Markle, Indiana pastor, Zachry Petree (25), admitted in Huntington Circuit Court yesterday that he asked a 16-year-old girl connected to his congregation for “sexy” pictures while also showing her nude pictures of another woman.

Petree faces up to one year in prison as part of a deal where he pleaded guilty to one felony count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors. Huntington County prosecutors will drop charges of sexual battery and child seduction against Petree if a judge accepts the deal at a scheduled sentencing January 8th.

Petree is also accused of sending pizzas to the girl’s home while he was free on bond, breaking the no contact order issued against him.

He is scheduled to appear in court again on the obstruction of justice charge later this month, where a judge will go over the status of his legal counsel.

After he pleaded guilty the judge revoked his bail and is now incarcerated in the Huntington County Jail.

Petree at the time of the incidents was the pastor of The Field Church, a part of the Church of God Mountain Assembly, in Markle.

WANE-15 adds:

Allegations that Petree, who was the pastor of The Field Church in Markle, sent sexually explicit messages to the girl surfaced this past February when she told a woman she was living with about the messages, according to court documents.

Shortly thereafter, Huntington Police and the Indiana Department of Child Services became involved and interviewed the girl as well as the couple who are her guardians, court documents said.

The girl told investigators some of the messages from Petree asked for inappropriate pictures while some sent from him showed another woman undressed, court documents said.

Some of the messages Petree is accused of sending asked the girl for sex, according to court documents.

He’s also accused of giving the girl a phone already loaded with sexually explicit images, court documents said, and of trying to kiss her.

According to court documents, church leaders with the Church of God Mountain Assembly, which oversees The Field Church, were made aware of the allegations during the investigation and were also interviewed by police investigators before charges were filed. The accusations also spread through the small congregation, court documents said.

Petree was removed from church leadership at some point during the investigation, court documents said.

….

In his guilty plea, filed in late November, Petree admitted to asking the girl for “sexy” pictures of herself, sending her sexually explicit pictures of another woman and giving her the phone with more sexually explicit pictures.

He also admitted in court documents that he “quickly grabbed” the girl by the upper arm one night at his home and “pulled her into me and kissed her lips.”

“I now admit that I did knowingly or intentionally disseminate matter to (the girl), a minor, that is harmful to minors,” Petree’s plea agreement reads.

While Petree awaits sentencing on that charge, he now also faces a felony count of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor count of invasion of privacy prosecutors filed against him this past November.

In that case, Petree is accused of sending pizzas to the girl’s home while he was free on bond, breaking the no contact order issued against him, court documents said.

He’s also accused of messaging the woman the girl lived with through social media, pleading that she convince the girl to tell police investigators the girl lied about the allegations against him, according to court documents.

“I can’t get a job,” Petree is accused of writing to the woman. “My car’s getting repoed (sic) and we’re going to lose the apartment. So we are trying to find a place to live. We can’t get health or food because I’m in the system.”

“I have always tried to be a good person,” he’s accused of writing. “I don’t understand why she’s wanting me to be put in prison and be a sex offender for the rest of my life…It’s a shame that me and my wife and children are having to go through this hell because of a girl who is known to be a pathological liar. She is lying.”

“I need you to get her to tell them nothing sexual happened and that she lied,” Petree’s accused of writing. “And she stole my phone and set me up.”

“I need u (sic) to send my children some money since u all lied on me and started this crap,” Petree is accused of writing to the woman at one point.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser